Guest Post: Mary Lindsey Author of Shattered Souls

Welcome to Author Mary Lindsey!


Mary’s writing is a natural expression of her love of reading and a fascination with the flexibility of the human imagination. Books make the impossible possible.
Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, Mary received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama from the University of Houston. She has taught drama and playwriting in a large public high school and English in a private school. Currently, Mary teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.
She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Mary lives in Houston with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter’s pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. (The roaches are long story—don’t ask.)

Guest Post:
The Revision Letter of Doom

When Jill Santopolo, the executive editor of Philomel Books, bought Shattered Souls, she made it clear there would be significant revisions. I love to revise (that is sick, I know), so this wasn’t an issue at all for me… or so I thought.

The first round came and I dug right in. The changes were straightforward and I ripped right through them. “No biggy,” I told myself as I sent them back completed in less than a week.

Then the second letter came: 5,000 words of doom. It was a textbook example of the “sandwich” approach to critique, beginning with praise and ending with encouragement. What was in between? Armageddon.

I read it. Then, I read it again. Then I forwarded it to my agent. I think all I wrote in the forwarding email was, “Oh, my God.”

My agent called and acknowledged it was “quite a letter.”

It was quite a letter, all right. Full of little bombs like this:

“I think that for this to work you’re probably going to have to pull the whole manuscript apart, rearrange things, add some scenes, delete some scenes and then put it all back together.”

I had just rewritten the entire book right before submitting it to Penguin, switching it over from third person point of view to first person, so receiving a revision letter saying it would need to be taken apart and completely rewritten again freaked me out a bit.

This was not a revision letter. It was a rewrite letter.

A couple of days later, it arrived in hardcopy along with the marked up manuscript and I got to hold it in my hands and read it in person, including this lovely sentence:

“Basically, the 60% of your story is working pretty well.”

That meant almost half of my book wasn’t working. At this point, I had two choices: Dig in or quit. I’ll be honest with you, the second option looked pretty good.

“Bite-sized chunks,” I told myself. Then, I developed a strategy to prevent insanity or career destruction.

The letter was divided into several parts, the largest section containing an outline of the new structure of the work. I began by cutting and pasting sections of the letter onto separate pages and printing them. Then, I pulled each of the requested scenes whether complete, or needing work and stapled them to that page. New scenes just got a blank sheet of paper attached to the scene description. Scenes that just needed tweaking got a blue cover page. Those needing a re-tool got orange and those that were to be created anew or rewritten completely got hot pink. In the end, there were far more orange and pink sections than blue.

Then, I put them in the new order. Pages from the back ended up in the front and vice versa. The book would now begin with page 40.

The worst part was a 60-page stack left over from the manuscript that would not be used at all. 15,000 words in the trash.

I emailed my agent again with another “Oh, my God.”

Then, I put my tidy, color-coded, reordered manuscript with the revision pages for each scene in a room I rarely used and closed the door.

The door remained closed for weeks. I never even peeked in to see if the manuscript had moved or begun to write itself. I just ignored it.

Well, not really. I read the 5,000-word Letter of Doom several times a day from the copy I had on my computer. At the end of two weeks, I had committed it to memory, which somehow made it less intimidating.

Looking back, it’s a wonder I made it through that round at all—and two more subsequent rounds. Yep. I got two more letters after that one, but after the Letter of Doom, nothing fazed me.

Not only did the intense rounds of revisions make Shattered Souls a better book, they made me a better writer. I’m sure I’ll get another equally terrifying revision letter one of these days. And to that, I say, “Bring it!”


Mary’s Website:


Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger.
Lenzi hears voices and has visions – gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can’t help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she’s a reincarnated Speaker – someone who can talk to and help lost souls – and that he has been her Protector for centuries.
Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn’t make a decision soon.

Teen Book Scene Shattered Souls Blog Tour schedule: